14 July 2010
Two large sections of the ’Ruapehu - Whanganui - Nga Ara Tuhono’ trail, which runs south from Ruapehu in the central North Island through the Whanganui region to the western coast, was opened at a launch ceremony at the Ohakune Railway Station.
Also attended by Ruapehu district mayor Sue Morris, Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson, Green Party MP Kevin Hague and representatives from the local iwi, this cycleway project is the first of seven ’quick start’ projects which form part of the ongoing ’Great Rides’ national cycle network.
"Once all the trails are completed, there will be a series of Great Rides throughout the country for New Zealanders and overseas visitors alike to experience," said Prime Minister John Key.
Lead by the Ministry of Tourism, the Government’s New Zealand Cycle Trail (NZCT) project was developed to help retain jobs during the economic crisis. It was also created to be a long-term national asset, both for New Zealanders and to enhance New Zealand’s reputation as a premium tourist destination.
It is estimated that the Nga Ara Tuhono trail will bring up to NZD3 million per year for the local economy.
The Nga Ara Tuhono trail travels through land protected by the Department of Conservation and riders were able to use it immediately after the launch.
Open sections of the trail feature the Old Coach Road day ride, an easy ride from Ohakune to Horopito, and a two-day ride from Raetihi to Mangapurua Landing, suitable for more adventurous cyclists. The rest of the route is to be completed before next year’s Rugby World Cup.
Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive Kevin Bowler said, "for visitors with an interest in cycling it will be a reason to stay longer, explore more of New Zealand and spread their spend more widely."
"Facilities like this that enhance the way visitors can enjoy our natural environment are positive for the tourism industry, and will help ensure visitors go home raving about their experiences while in New Zealand."
The Government announced on 06 July that funding for the construction of eight new cycle trails has also been confirmed ahead of schedule. These trails are part of Nga Haerenga, The New Zealand Cycle Trail project and will form part of the ’Great Rides’ cycle network.
In the year ending March 2010, more than 60,000 international visitors participated in cycle sports during their trip here in New Zealand.